Why I Love
When we are young we are raised with stories of bold heroes. People who seek out treasure and fight mighty creatures all whilst protecting the good and innocent people they come into contact with. Heroes that are charming, handsome, funny and ultimately the bravest person in the story...and then we have Borderlands and its Vault Hunters.
Now Borderlands is a memorable series for many reasons, whether it be its outrageous ammount of guns, the distinct art style, its crude humour, outrageous gameplay or interesting lore, but the long story short is that there is something for everyone in this fantastic series. So with the third main entry in the series (Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel) just around the corner and an upcoming Telltale Games series (Tales from the Borderlands) not too far behind it; lets take a journey to Pandora and count down the 10 reasons why I love Borderlands.
10) The Art Style
One of Borderlands most distinct and recognisable assets its is art style. A rough, sharp edged, thick bordered, cel-shaded, comic book style visual theme. You only have to look at a character model or a concept art screenshot to know its Borderlands thanks to its unique look.
Its use of colour helps distinguish it from other games on the market, especially its FPS brethren. With a multitude of colours on show, each distinct to the areas of the world you are in. Yes whilst Borderlands 1 is slightly muted on its vibrancy of colours compared to the sequel, each game showcases lush greens, sunburst yellows, deep red's, dusty browns, icy blues and perplexing purples.
Its over the top nature is expertly represented in its visuals too with explosions being far too large for what they came from, hilarious animations and some downright silly character designs. It all brings a good belly laugh to anyone who plays, as long as you're in on the joke its trying to pull that is.
9) Co-op Mayhem
Though Borderlands is still a great singleplayer experience, its the co-op multiplayer that really makes the game shine. You can play through the games story and side quests with up to four players, tearing the planet of Pandora a new one whilst causing murder and mayhem in search for the Vault.
The co-op really begins to shine through in some of the later missions, most notably Borderlands 2's second half, bringing across a real sense of epic, large scale battles filled with countless enemies. Its all against four and once you come out the other end, casually walking away from numerous explosions, you cant help but feel like a totally badass team.
8) Genre Blending
Famous for coining the genre 'Role Playing Shooter', Borderlands at its core and on the surface is an open world FPS. But dig a little deeper and you not only find a great skill tree system, but a large focus on inventory management, challenges in search of rewards, extensive side questing, and a lot of loot collecting. When you look at it close enough it resembles more of a dungeon crawler than anything else. You enter an area, clear the enemies and loot every nook and cranny to either find a shiny new item for you to use, or just sell it all to buy shiny new items. Rinse and repeat for a good 35 hours or so on top of all the levelling up and that's pretty much Borderlands in a nut shell. Simple, effective and extremely addictive.
7) The Guns
According to Guinness World Records 2012 Gamers Edition, the first Borderlands has 17,750,000 guns. A world record holder for the most guns in a videogame, and the 2nd has even more! This however may be a slight exaggeration as many gun are actually just variants on the same weapon with slightly different stats. Regardless though, Borderlands still has an outrageous number of guns, even with many duplicates with different stats. The likelihood of using a similar weapon twice in one playthrough is extremely small. With 10 unique weapons manufacturers across the original and sequel alone, with 7 different weapon types along side factors such as 6 elemental variants & 6 different rarity levels...you can already tell from them kind of stats that there are a lot of guns on offer and each one of them them is a hell of a lot of fun to use. They feel powerful, they look great and best of all...there is always something better to find.
6) The Vault Hunters
Main characters in games are kind of a big deal, lets face it. I mean its the person you play as, the eyes you will view the world through for the next god knows how long. Good thing you have a choice then. Once the pre-sequel releases there will be a total of 14 individual main characters that you will have been able to chose to play as across three games. Each game launches with four characters, each with a unique skillset and way to play the game. Bordelrands 2 added two extra with DLC bringing the roster up to 14.
The original game includes:
Roland (The Soldier) is normally the character of choice in the original Borderlands, built for the player who is used to FPS' but not so much anything else. Its all about using the assault rifles, shotguns & grenades alongside your trusty Scorpio turret to blast through the game.
Lilith (The Siren) is usually the next choice, great for a 2nd playthrough or for people who enjoy run & gun gameplay. Lilith is fast and specialises in lighter, faster firing weaponry (as has a fondness towards elemental weaponry) as well as using her mystical siren abilities to sneak around the back of opponents and flank them.
Mordecai (The Hunter) is for the player who enjoys long range combat. Specialising in sniper rifles and pistols, Mordecai favours accuracy from far away than to be up in the thick of it. His trusty pet Bloodwing will also be ready to pounce on any enemy that is getting too close to his master.
Brick (The Beserker) is for people who enjoy a little bang in life. Specialising in explosives and close range combat, Brick is the tank of the roster. Best played in co-op, Brick is an essential part of a successful Vault Hunter team.
The sequel includes:
Axton (The Commando) is in many respects similar to Roland from the first game. Unlike Roland however he is much more reliant on his turret skill, of which is much more upgradable than the Scorpio. He too favours an assault rifle and its the wisest choice for newcomers to the Borderlands series.
Maya (The Siren) my share the same class name as Lilith but the two play very differently. Unlike Lilith, Maya cannot travel quickly, instead she can 'Phaselock' foes and suspend them above the battlefield in a dark energy sphere. The essential co-op character this time round, Maya is one of the most well rounded classes in the game.
Zero (The Assassin) is a mix between Mordecai & Brick from the original game. Much like Mordecai he does favour a sniper rifle and pistol, though his melee weapon is his greatest ally. Invisibly moving from foe to foe, slicing and dicing as he goes, Zero is great for clearing large clusters of enemies in short spaces of time, though he requires some skill to master.
Salvador (The Gunzerker) is the epitome of Borderlands gameplay. With a mastery of almost all weapon types, Salvador is the tank class with the ability to dual-wield weapons of any type. Want a sniper and rocket launcher? You can do it. By himself Salvador can be easily overwhelmed but when played as part of a team, you'll be pleased when the later missions roll around and you need someone to play the heavily armed distraction.
Gaige (The Mechromancer) was added as DLC to Borderlands 2. With her robot 'Deathtrap' by her side, Gaige specialises against robotic enemies. With no real weapon preference she is based purely on her special ability and great for those players that are looking for an easy introduction to a more RPG heavy style gameplay.
Finally Krieg (The Psycho) is the the most powerful of the Vault Hunters. Growing up on Pandora gave him an insatiable thirst for blood. Best with up close combat, Kreig is also another tank class for Borderlands 2, but much more of a challenge than Salvador. A class for Borderlands veterans only.
The Pre-Sequel has returning side characters becoming the playable characters. Fan favourite Claptrap heads the roster with half mech-half man Wilhelm, Sheriff Nisha and bounty hunter Athena capping off the roster. Little is known about each class thusfar but expect variations on similar existing classes.
5) The Side Characters
If there is one thing Borderlands does really well is its cast of hilarious side characters. From the loveable but irritating Claptrap, to greedy gun store owner Marcus, the clueless Dr. Zed and the ever seductive Moxxi. Borderlands has a eccentric and believable cast to back up its equally eccentric story lines.
Everyone has a deep and interesting back story, usually pretty hilarious too. Whether it be about Moxxi's past husbands (one of them being Marcus) and being revealed to be mother of hillbilly mechanic Scooter. Or whether it be about Dr. Zed's evil alter ego, Dr. Ned.
Perhaps we fancy a bit of a 'hard to get' love story between Roland & Lilith in Borderlands 2 or maybe we want to spend some time with our favourite big game hunter Sir Hammerlock.
Everyone has a tale to tell, some funny, some creepy and some actually quite sad. The main characters are all well and good but its the excellent side cast that make the Borderlands story what it is...not to mention one of the best, most ruthless and utterly devoted villains of all time, Handsome Jack.
4) Content Quantity
The Borderlands games are huge...and that's an understatement. Not including DLC, the first and second games will last you around 70-80 hours to do all main & side quests. The map is also huge, spanning several thousand kilometres of the planet's surface, be prepared to travel to Arctic tundra's, deserts, forests, sky cities, underground sewage pits, various caves, industrial plants, futuristic utopia's and more. The gun count only adds to this mind numbing amount of content, plus the character classes and the secrets to find littered around the place. It will take you a very very long time to see everything in a Borderlands game...and that's before you splash out for the equally huge DLC packs.
3) Where Angels Fear To Tread
I'm tiptoeing on spoiler territory here so I'll keep it brief, but this Borderlands 2 quest is single-handedly one of my favourite missions in gaming of all time, let alone the best mission in the franchise thusfar. It perfectly blends the right amount of comedy and tragedy into one mission, whilst not only revealing a plotpoint that changes the way you will look at the original game, but even changes the way you'll look at certain aspects of the sequel. A huge plot twist that nobody ever saw coming that only continues to get bigger and bigger over the course of the missions final few minutes. Place that in a mission where you storm a huge Hyperion base, have a difficult and unique boss battle, plus a mission that utilises a lot of the side cast that don't normally get much involvement in main missions. Its everything you could want from a midgame climax in a game that only keeps on getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
You'll have to play the mission to understand what exactly I mean, but once you play it you'll realise that 'Where Angels Fear To Tread' sets a new standard for main quest-lines in RPG's.
2) The Humour
Borderlands is known for its brash, immature and over the top humour both in terms of look, play and dialogue. Whether it be the hilarious enemies spouting one liners at you, blowing enemies to smithereens with a ridiculously oversized weapon or just by having a really cool easter egg, its all saturated in the same greasy, oily and extremely tasty substance that is Borderlands humour.
Where the first game does just come off as a game trying to push the over the top boundaries, the sequel excels in funny dialogue and genuinely laugh out loud slapstick moments. Despite definetley not being a game for kids, it really does remind you of the Tom & Jerry and Loony Tunes style cartoons where violence is funny because its violent...this just adds in a lot of blood and some rather colourful dialogue.
Regardless of who you are, its undeniable truth that the Borderlands games, specifically 2 & The Pre-Sequel have some of the best trailers in all of video gaming. The Borderlands 2 'Doomsday' trailer began the trend of trailers that perfectly reflect the kind of game that Borderlands is. Over the top, childishly funny and huge in scale.
This trend continued with the 'Wimoweh' trailer for Borderlands 2 and more recently the Pre-Sequel's 'Wanted' trailer & of course the 'Moon Dance' trailer featuring an NPC dance piece choreographed by Harmonix.
These silly and high budget trailers not only perfectly showcase the game for what it is but also put many other big budget trailers to shame for sheer originality and use of licensed songs.
Though not strictly trailers the intro sequences to Borderlands games are typically equally awesome in very similar ways.
So that's it. The 10 reasons why I love Borderlands. If its a series you haven't delved into yet now is the perfect time with two new games coming soon and the previous two being very cheap in the lead up to it. If you like FPS' and you want more out of it than the run of the mill shooter, or you're an RPG fanatic with an interest in sci-fi/fantasy (If you can deal with the entry level Role Playing mechanics) then Borderlands is something that will very easily satisfy you...plus if these 10 reasons weren't enough to make your mind up for you then we may as well dump you on Pandora ourselves.